By Heather Agun, Edited by Stephen Waltar and Becky Pearsall
*Created under the direct legal supervision of Stephen Waltar
Please see Disclaimer.
Eventually, we’ll all pass away, and some of us may become permanently incapacitated before then. This is exactly why we all need to do some kind of estate planning. But even though you may have completed an estate plan, it’s likely you’ve wondered how to communicate everything properly to those that matter to you. What to explain to family about a will or trust is a common concern.
This is probably why nearly every client has asked us, “But how will they know what to do when I’m gone?” and “How can I explain my my will or trust to my family?” Family members, Personal Representatives, Successor Trustees, and even the surviving spouse, can be left in an awkward (and potentially expensive) position if they’re not educated and up-to-date about the next steps.
We have an upcoming event that will cover this in-depth for our client. If you can’t attend, here are some of the tips we pass on to our clients about how to educate their loved ones and what’s most important to tell their successor agents.
Explain to Family You’ve Made a Will or Trust and Share Attorney Contact Information
If no one knows you have an Estate Plan, they may not think to look for it after you’ve passed away. To ensure everything happens smoothly, it is important that you explain to your agents or family that you have made a will or trust, and who your attorney is. Many clients share this with their Successor Trustee or Personal Representative.
The person you share this information with will also need to know where to find your plan, so you should share the location of your Estate Planning Binder and our firm’s contact information with them as well.
There is also legal work that needs to be done, but our firm can’t help with it until we’ve been contacted. Clients should direct their Successor Trustee or Personal Representative to contact an attorney who can help with estate administrations, like us, in the case of death or permanent incapacity.
Resources in Your Estate Planning Binder
For clients with Will-based plans, there are directions to the Personal Representative in the “Other Documents” section of your binder, along with a description of the legal duties and responsibilities of a Personal Representative. For clients with Trust-based plans, this information is stored in the “Death or Disability” section of your binder and encompasses both the Personal Representatives’ & Successor Trustees’ duties. (The Personal Representative and the Successor Trustee are most often the same person/people.) This is extremely useful information, and it can be helpful to share it with those that need to be informed.
How Our Firm Helps, and Our Upcoming Educational Event For Your Family
If our clients need additional resources to educate their family, they can call our office to get advice specific to them.
It is very important that someone contacts our firm after a client passes away or becomes permanently incapacitated. After we’re informed of such an event, the person who they named to handle their affairs will come in to meet with our firm. One of our attorneys will evaluate the situation and discuss what the next steps should be. But most friends and family members want to understand NOW what this will entail, not when it’s too late to discuss anything more with their loved one.
So, many clients’ families and friends are left wondering about what the plan really does, how it works, and what their role in it is. There are so many complex factors that go into estate planning, trust administrations, and probates, it can seem impossible to explain your own plan without the help of an expert.
We’re here for you. More and more clients have expressed interest in inviting their family into a meeting with an attorney, or have asked us to hold a class / information session for their families. That’s why we’ve planned our free Trustee School for our clients on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 30th, 2019. It is for you, our clients, to come with your families and get the answers you’ve been asking for.
What Will Be Covered at Trustee School?
We’ll help answer the many questions your family or Successor Trustees have so you don’t have to worry about what to explain to them about your will and trust. Topics we’ll cover will include:
- The basics of Estate Planning
- What’s the difference between a Trustee and an Executor / Personal Representative?
- What Financial and Health Care Power of Attorney Agents can and can’t do
- Responsibilities and duties of a Trustee, Agent, or Personal Representative
- Important things to know about the law
- Actions that should be taken in an emergency
- What your family / agents need to do if you become permanently incapacitated
- What family / agents need to do if you pass away
- Question and Answer Session
Register Here for Trustee School
Other Client Note: If you’ve wondered how to help your friends or family get their estate plan done, check out this article about how to help your friends and family develop an estate plan or their own, or invite them to our upcoming event where we’ll teach them all about estate planning and offer an amazing holiday discount of 20%. The link to the upcoming event, the Friends and Family Workshop on December 5th, 2019, is below:
Friends and Family Workshop Registration Page